The 2nd PG Confluence Day event took place on 13th April 2012. The event was organized by the Office of Alumni Affairs, in collaboration with the IITM Alumni Association (IITMAA). It was initiated last year to serve as a platform for the PG students and research scholars of the institute to interact with alumni. The event saw a turnout of around 140 people good participation from the PG alumni of the institute, with participation of over 23 alumni, apart from the five Distinguished Alumni, who were invited for a panel discussion.
The event was inaugurated by the Director, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Dean Planning & In-charge Alumni Affairs, Prof. David Koilpillai and the Distinguished Alumni. Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi then addressed the audience and emphasized on the growth in the number of PG (MS & PhD) students over the years and the various collaborations of the institute. Prof. David Koilpillai spoke about the various facilities that were sanctioned by government which include the High Performance Cluster(4096 nodes),transmission Electron microscope(TEM) and the other spectrometry facilities.
The highlight of the event was the presence of the Distinguished Alumni Awardees (DAAs) for the last 3 years. 2010 DAA, Dr. P. Chellapandi (Associate Director, Nuclear Engineering Group,IGCAR), 2011 DAA, Dr. V. S. Sunder (Professor, Institute of Mathematical Sciences) and 2012 DAAs, Dr. Raj Mutharasan (Professor,Chemical & Biological Engg.,Drexel University, USA), Shri. Balaji Sampath (Founder and CEO, AID INDIA, Chennai) & Dr. Prabhakar Raghavan (Vice President for Strategic Technologies,Google, USA) were present for a panel discussion, organized as a part of the event. The panel discussion was on “Career after Research” and Dr. Prabhakar Raghavan commented during the discussion, in a lighter vein, that if he were to pick the topic for the discussion, he would have picked “Career in Research”. Dr Ashwin Mahalingam (Assistant Professor, Civil Engineering Department, IIT Madras) introduced the esteemed alumni to the audience and moderated the whole discussion. Dr. Raj Mutharasan emphasized the importance of student ideas and mentioned that “when a student comes with a bright idea don’t ignore him, but work with him”. Prof V. S. Sunder raised the necessity of novel and aesthetic approach from Graduate students. Shri. Balaji Sampath stressed the importance of researching on the methods to teach the children, keeping to his spirits. He emphasized the necessity to understand and improve the techniques that would help the children to learn faster. He also mentioned the various regional research topics like drinking water supply and irrigation issues that could create a huge impact on the society. Dr. P. Chellapandi, especially talked about careers in the power sector. The discussion was interactive with active participation from the students and alumni.
The event also saw two talks from the PG alumni – Ms. Vijayalakshmi Gopal (Head, TCS Tools Group) and Shri. V. S. Sundara Raman (Vice President- OnDemand Solutions at Ramco Systems Limited). Ms. Vijayalakshmi Gopal, spoke about her journey in the software industry. She shared her experiences with IITM, TCS and being in charge of 400 odd employees. She said that research and new discoveries are made in software industries everyday, which improves their understanding of a concept or code. She also mentioned the various ongoing projects in TCS.
Shri. V. S. Sundara Raman, held the audience captive with his non-technical talk on “Cloud Computing”. He spoke on the new trends and directions of the software industry. Having himself involved in helping many small and medium scale enterprises to adapt to the cloud computing technology, he said that the open sourcing of software would be the new trend in technology in the near future. The future, he believes, would belong to the open sourcing and platform sharing. Apart from all this, there was also an Open Quiz, in which gifts were given away to those who answered the question correctly. Alumni also actively participated, by giving wild guesses to the ‘fun’ questions that were posed. The quiz was handled magnificently by Suresh and the quiz questions were organized equally well by Rakesh Varma, both research scholars from the Mechanical Engineering Department. Though there was a speculation that the low participation levels could have been due the event clashing with classes, it still raised questions from the Alumni on how to involve more PG students and research scholars in such activities.